A number of groups have worked together through the process of reviewing the year now ending, and starting to plan for the next. Many voices and perspectives bring out the elements of our mission and issues that we each might not see alone. This last week the executive cabinet and the deans met, separately and then together, to collaborate on a full and common understanding of 2014-2015 so that we can support each other and progress towards a common vision and purpose for 2015-2016 and beyond. In doing so we all saw things that we might not have noticed without academic and administrative leaders at the table at the same time.
Each group, and individuals too, offered unique perspectives and insights. We looked, of course, at ever-present needs. And we identified some bottlenecks that constrain our efforts and drain our energies. We named some of the internal conflicts and differences of priority that get in our way. This was difficult to do. We would often rather avoid differences of opinion and perhaps commitments, and work around them, rather than face them directly. This was one of the first times the cabinet and deans had met together in a long while. It was encouraging to be a part of a group that was not afraid to jump into the deep end.
Among the sessions’ inspiring moments were identifying the successes of the year, and being reminded of all that can be accomplished by dedicated professors and students, staff, administration, supporters, board members, alumni and others who care for and pray for the university. We see the hand of God in it all. Each group identified at least 20 accomplishments. I can’t list them all…
- Some were big: a successful accreditation visit and a balanced budget.
- Some were behind the scenes but will have results later: simplified internal systems, planning for a building, a new website, engagement by the whole community in the strategic planning process.
- Some were to be celebrated: the scholarship, teaching and learning of professors and students, international programs and trips, new musical ensembles, the growth of student leaders and champion athletes, including the baseball team.
- Some set records, or at least notable numbers: gift income that exceeded expectations (thank you to all who have so generously supported FPU), record enrollment, gifts for the purchase of property.
Some were the nuts and bolts of our operations, others very personal individual successes. Each of us here, and many who have family members and friends at FPU, can add to the list from our own unique perspectives. We held together through some difficult moments. Perhaps commencement at Selland Arena (with more than 7,500 in attendance—we’ve outgrown the campus!) and its celebration of the achievement of students is a fitting symbol for the end of the year. They are the ones who will carry out the ultimate mission of the university, building on the foundation of a Christ-centered education to become leaders and agents of change in their communities. It is good to take a moment to reflect back on the work and mission we are so privileged to be a part of.